Friday, June 12, 2009

Idiot of the week goes to . . .

Friday!!!! Weekend!!!! Yea! I really wish the whole week could be the weekend, don't you? Maybe Congress could legislate a four or five day weekend? You scoff and, true, we have a do-nothing Congress. But with the rising unemployment rate, one way to ensure jobs for everyone could be to limit the work week! :D

This is from Suzanne Ito's "DOJ Seeks Rehearing of ACLU Rendition Case:"

Today was the deadline for the Obama Justice Department to request a full panel hearing of Mohamed v. Jeppesen, the extraordinary rendition case that we won before a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit in April. And sure enough, they asked.
We’re disappointed.
Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project who successfully argued the case in February on behalf of the plaintiffs, said in statement today:
The Obama administration has now fully embraced the Bush administration’s shameful effort to immunize torturers and their enablers from any legal consequences for their actions. The CIA’s rendition and torture program is not a ’state secret’; it’s an international scandal. If the Obama administration has its way, no torture victim will ever have his day in court, and future administrations will be free to pursue torture policies without any fear of liability.
April’s 9th Circuit decision (PDF) reversed a lower court dismissal of the lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan, a Boeing subsidiary, which the ACLU brought on behalf of five men who were kidnapped and secretly transferred to U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence agencies overseas where they were interrogated under torture. The suit charges that Jeppesen knowingly participated by providing critical flight planning and logistical support services to aircraft and crews used by the CIA to forcibly disappear these five men to detention and interrogation.
The Bush administration had intervened, improperly asserting the
"state secrets" privilege to have the case thrown out. The appeals court ruled, as the ACLU has argued, that the government must invoke the state secrets privilege with respect to specific evidence, not to dismiss the entire suit.

So that's an important issue and we're moving to Idiot of the Week right away because Leigh Ann has been pestering me to bring that back. This week's Idiot of the Week? The Nation magazine. The whole darn magazine.

Mainly because of Socialist Betsy Reed who can't admit publicly that she's a Socialist. Come out of the closet, fraidy cat. My grandfather (mother's father, who is a Socialist) found Betsy's latest lunacy and we read it together laughing the entire way. Betsy, in your lies, you provide entire families with much joy.

As my grandfather pointed out, "A left hypocrite is anyone who excuses what took place with GM, a left hypocrite is anyone who refuses to note how it's very similar to what Truman tried that the Supreme Court had to stop." And he's correct. And, like Betsy, he's a Socialist. He finds it hilarious that Betsy hides in a closet and feels the need to defend Barry O and he also knows the word is "fasicsim" not Socialism.

Betsy's an idiot and a liar and she earned both titles in 2008. She can't tell the truth if her life depends upon it. She's sewer trash. And she tries to tie Barack's destructive crap in with a public plan for health insurance -- something Barry's not offering. She uses that to wash down the rest. She's a a Political Whore who needs to be outed.

I've never read such idiotic writing as Betsy Reed's and I now understand why Elaine and C.I. (who both know her) make so much fun of her. What an idiot.

Related. Katha Pollitt discovered Wednesday what Ava and C.I. pointed out Sunday. Here's Katha:

In the immediate aftermath of Dr. Tiller's murder it was astonishing how many men were called upon to weigh in on abortion on national television. CNN featured William Schneider, Sanjay Gupta and Bill Press. On Fox, Bill O'Reilly defended his use of "baby killer" and "death mill" to describe Dr. Tiller and his clinic. On MSNBC, Keith Olbermann--who the last time I checked in spent a whole segment making fun of Miss Anti-Gay Marriage California's breast implants with waspish misogynist Michael Musto--had only men: Slate's Will Saletan, who thinks we can "end" abortion by stigmatizing women with unwanted pregnancies, because right now everyone is just too kind, and Andrew Sullivan, who knows as much about women's reproductive lives as I know about soliciting bareback sex on the Internet.

Here's Ava and C.I.:

The lack of diversity was only more clear in the segment preceding Jackson's. That's when Steve Rendall sat down with Frederick Clarkson to discuss . . . abortion. Dr. George Tiller was assassinated for the 'crime' of providing women's health care. The best way to discuss it, CounterSpin felt, was to bring on a man. One who had nothing to offer on abortion but wanted to talk hate-tallk. To try to make Clarkson's booking more palatable, Steve stressed the man had just written a piece for Women's eNews on Tiller's assassination. Yes, he had. So did Anne Eggebroten and so did Cindy Cooper. If you're surprised that with 2 women and 1 man writing on the topic at Women's eNews that CounterSpin would book the male, you haven't been paying attention, now have you?
Had they booked Sunsara Taylor or Debra Sweet -- two other women who wrote strongly about the assassination last week -- they wouldn't have been able to have JFK's ghost hovering and it was a lot of nonsense from the title of Clarkson's piece to the details Clarkson grasped at --including claims that suggest he missed or misunderstood the report Amy Goodman did last week.
Last week started with Dr. Tiller being assassinated while attending church. The hit took place not because Tiller was a man, not because he was White, not because of any details other than what he did: provide women's health care.
And yet women were the ones repeatedly shut out of the conversation. As happens over and over. To her credit, Amy Goodman gave the hour of Monday's show to five women discussing the assassination and what it means. But two days later Democracy Now! serves up a segment allegedly on the hate involved and booked Clarkson (yes, the same one CounterSpin offered) and Chip Berlet. Two men. Because women know nothing of hate aimed at them? Because it's not a serious discussion unless you can turn it over to men? Chip Berlet's laughable 'institution' (which has succeeded only in getting rich -- not surprisingly considering whoring's all Berlet's ever been good at as he first demonstrated by stabbing the Christic Institute in the back publicly) shouldn't be invited anywhere but, for the record, Berlet has never had an abortion and we feel we can safely say he never will. Nor will Clarkson.
It really is amazing to watch these two men try to take the spotlight and reminds us of all the Whites during the Civil Rights Movement who repeatedly attempted to grab the spotlight from African-Americans. If it's not your story, you shouldn't be the guest. But vanity trumps common sense for a lot of men.

'Brave' Katha Pollitt, marching down the road Ava and C.I. already plowed and refusing to note that Panhandle Media was doing the exact same thing Big Media was.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, June 12, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Newsweek explores Iraq, Congress puts out like a gumball machine for the White House, a Sunni MP is assassinated, Nouri stages a praise-a-thon, and more.

Starting with
Newsweek. Comedian Stephen Colbert took his Comedy Central show to Iraq and, as a tie-in, was the guest editor of Newsweek for the issue on sale now (with his photo on the cover). For four pages you get more lies from Fareed Zakaria, these are titled "Victory In Iraq." Liar Fareed wants you to know "the democratic ideal is still within reach." Oh really? How do you define "democratic ideal," you damn liar? Two centuries ago, if you lied in the public square the way Fareed has repeatedly, you would have found yourself whipped in the public square and maybe for pundits who put the lives of others at risk we should bring that policy back. Here's reality that liars like Fareed can never tell you about:

We are writing to urge you to call upon the government of Iraq to prevent the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, and to protect the right of all Iraqi citizens to be free from all forms of cruel,inhumane or degrading punishment.
Deeply disturbing reports are enamating from Iraq with regard to the torture, beating and killing of LGBT people in that country. The increasing violence is being led by religious zealots who are targeting these individuals simply because of their sexual orientation. This year alone, 63 people have been tortured or killed as a result of religious decrees against gay citizens. A prominent Iraqi human rights activists has reported that Iraqi militia have deployed painful and degrading forms of torture and punishment against homesexuals that must be stopped.
The United States is spending trillions of dollars to fight a war that is based on bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people. These unspeakable actions of violence on Iraqi citizens are in direct violation of our purpose for being in that country and of the stated policy of non-discrimination of the new administration.
Local police in Iraq have issued a statement that "the extra-judicial killing of any citizen is a crime punishable by law. No one has the right to become a substitute for judicial authorities or executive authorities, and if there are complaints against individuals, there is law and there are police and there are government agencies. No group or class has the authority to punish people instead of the state." The violence occuring against LGBT Iraqis is in direct contradiction to this statement.
As one of the signatories to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Iraqi government has an obligation to protect the right to life (Article 6) and the right of all its citizens "to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" (Article 7). Current actions belie this obligation.
To protect the lives of LGBT Iraqis, we urge you to please take immediate action to stop the violence. We believe that a strong public condemnation of these actions must come from you and our other national leaders, along with the necessary pressure on the Iraqi government to protect the life and liberty of all its citizens.

The [PDF format warning]
letter is signed by California state legislatures Mark Leno, Tom Ammiano, Christine Keho, John A. Perez, Jim Beall Jr., Julia Brownley, Sandre R. Swanson, Tom Torlakson, Marty Block, Mariko Yamada, Pedro Nava, ANthony Portantino, Jerry Hill, Hector de la Torre, Mike Feuer, Felipe Fuentes, Cathleen Galgiani, Curren D. Price Jr., Norma J. Torres, Jospeh S. Simitian, Elaine Alquist, Alan Lowenthal, Leland Yee, Gilbert Cedillo, Jenny Oropeza, Gloria Romero, Gloria Negrete McLeod, Lou Correa, Loni Hancock, Lois Wolk, Patricia Wiggins, Ellen Corbett, Carol Liu, Fran Pavley, Bonnie Lowenthal, William W. Monning, Isadore Hall III, Mary Salas, Mike Davis, Paul Fong, Warren T. Furutani, Jared Huffman, Bob Blumenfield, Alex Padilla and Paul Krekorian. The letter was sent this month to US President Barack Obama, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and US Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

The issue has been reported on by the Denver Post, the New York Times, the BBC, ABC and many other outlets. Newsweek has NEVER reported on it. Newsweek has never acknowledged the attacks and assaults on Iraq's LGBT community. And that falls on Fareed who decides what makes it into non-guest editorial issues and what doesn't. Fareed doesn't want to touch the subject due to his own apparent homosexual panic.
As SourceWatch notes, in October of 2006, War Hawk and Cheerleader Fareed was finally walking away from the illegal war declaring that the puppet government in Iraq "has failed" and calling the US venture/war crime a failure as well. He's back to selling the illegal war all over again. The Henry Kissinger wannabe infamously said as the illegal war on Iraq began, "The place is so dysfunctional any stirring of the pot is good. America's involvement in the region is for the good." Again, a few centuries back, he would have been flogged in the town square. These days he just feeds his own vanity which is how he ends up with an attention getting, four page spread which leads off the news section of the magazine. Vanity, thy name is Fareed.

On a better (and actual news) note, Gretel C. Kovach contributes "Canada's New Leaf" which zooms in on Kimberly Rivera, the Dallas - Fort Worth native and Iraq War veteran who self-checked out and took her family to Canada becoming, in February 2007, the first female Iraq War veteran to publicly seek asylum in Canada. Kovach notes Kimberly next appears before a Canadian court in July:

Now 26, Rivera has more problems than ever. Her mother hasn't spoken to her since she fled to Canada, although Rivera misses her terribly. And the Canadian government keeps trying to send her home to face desertion charges. She might end up in a military prison -- but says she has no regrets about her broken commitment to the service of her country. "At least I can say I never killed anyone, ever," she says. "I think that's a little more honorable."

Kovach demonstrates that Fareed doesn't know how to edit worth s**t. Jimmy Carter, as president, did not pardon deserters. He pardoned draft dodgers and only draft dodgers. He did that in the first month of his administration and there was hope among some (such as US House Rep Elizabeth Holtzman) that he would revist the subject but he never did. Before Jimmy Carter, President Gerald Ford offered a conditional amnesty for deserters and draft dodgers which required that they jump through hoops for a considerable amount of time and may or may not end up with amenesty. Very few attempted Ford's program. Near the end of Ford's presidency -- in November and December -- he considered proposing a pardon for draft dodgers and/or deserters, however, he was convinced (as were columnists at the New York Times) that Jimmy Carter would do this once sworn in. They were mistaken and only had to hear Carter's speech to veterans while campaigning for the presidency where he made clear that, if elected, he would pardon draft dodgers but not deserters. (Carter was booed during this speech.) We've covered this before and it's all public record. The inability of Newsweek and their fact checkers to get the story straight goes a long way towards explaining why all the whining about the death of Big Media is so much blah blah blah b.s. If you can't get damn facts right, you have no business charging anyone even a penny. I'm blaming the editors because I know where Gretel C. Kovach was fed the lies, the same place the lies are always fed up north. And, yeah, there little attacks on this site stemmed from the fact that we wouldn't let them lie in public without correcting the record. A
July 10, 2008 entry quoted Robert Trumbull, "Pardon Brings Cautious Response From Some War Exiles in Canada," New York Times, January 23, 1977:

Jeff Enger, a deserter from the Army and therefore excluded from the Presidential pardon, will be sworn in as a Canadian citizen next Friday, one of the many self-exiled American war resisters who "want to make our lives here." However, like other deserters, Mr. Egner would like to be able to travel freely in the country of his birth. The Presidential pardon covered nearly all draft evaders of the Vietnam War period. Mr. Carter postponed a decision on the men who entered but then deserted the armed forces. Jack Colhoun, a leader in the Toronto exile community, is one of those deseters who insist that they would fight in a "just war," or "if the United States were attacked," as Mr. Colhoun put it. The men interviewed, who rerpesent a cross section of the estimated 20,000 to 25,000 American war resisters living in Canada, have in common a yearning for recognition by Americans at home that their actions were an acceptable exercise of principle "in the American tradition," as one said. "We don't expect to be congratulated or anything," said Mr. Egner, a law student at the University of Toronto, "but we believe we acted correctly." They also share a deep conviction that the deserters, as well as the draft evaders, should be pardoned.

Because the lies from up north continue, we're apparently going to have to do a slow walk through.
David Postman (Seattle Times) outlined what Gerald Ford offered to war resisters: "a limited clemency for Vietnam draft resisters and military deserters." Here's Gerald Ford speaking in September of 1974 (and link has text and audio):

In my first week as President, I asked the Attorney General and the Secretary of Defense to report to me, after consultation with other Governmental officials and private citizens concerned, on the status of those young Americans who have been convicted, charged, investigated, or are still being sought as draft evaders or military deserters.
On August 19, at the national convention of Veterans of Foreign Wars in the city of Chicago, I announced my intention to give these young people a chance to earn their return to the mainstream of American society so that they can, if they choose, contribute, even though belatedly, to the building and the betterment of our country and the world.

That's Ford and his jump through hoops program which a study by the New York Times found, before Ford even left office, was being utitlized by very few of the over 50,000 who had self-checked out. Now let's move to Jimmy Carter once he becomes president.
Here's how PBS's The NewsHour (then The MacNeil/Lehrer Report) reported Carter's program on January 21, 1977 (link has text, audio and video):

Just a day after Jimmy Carter's inaguration, he followed through on a contentious campaign promise, granting a presidential pardon to those who had avoided the draft during the Vietnam war by either not registering or traveling abroad. The pardon meant the government was giving up forever the right to prosecute what the administration said were hundreds of thousands of draft-dodgers. . . . Meanwhile, many in amnest groups say that Carter's pardon did too little. They pointed out that the president did not include deserters -- those who served in the war and left before their tour was completed -- or soliders who received a less-than-honorable discharge. Civilian protesters, selective service employees and those who initiated any act of violence also were not covered in the pardon.

Use the link and you can read, listen or watch the roundtable which includes then US House Rep Elizabeth Holtzman who states, "I'm pleased that the pardon was issued, I'm pleased that it was done on the first day and I'm pleased that President Carter kept a commitment that he made very clear to the American people. I would have liked to have seen it broader, I would like to have seen it extended to some of the people who are clearly not covered and whose families will continue to be separatedf rom them . . . but I don't think President Carter has closed the door on this category of people." I like Liz and I've known her for years but it was this b.s. attitude of praising Jimmy instead of pressuring him that allowed him to never revist the issue again. He never did another thing and its appalling that a magazine called "Newsweek" which wants $5.95 an issue for their 'factual' reporting can't get their damn facts straight. (Hint to other reporters, stop believing the lies you hear up north. It is your job to fact check statements if you present them in your articles.) Jimmy Carter did not offer an "unconditional pardon" to deserters. He offered nothing to deserters and just because an old man in Canada (a deserter) told you that Carter offered something doesn't make it true. It's also appalling because Newsweek covered some of this in real time so the magazine (wrongly) fabled for its fact checking should have caught these lies before they made it into print. Kovach is of the opinion (it's a popular one these days -- that doesn't mean it's accurate) that the resisters will all be deported (the decision by Canada's House to pass ANOTHER non-binding resolution on the issue demonstrates that they really won't stand with war resisters) and notes:

All of which means that the United States must now figure out what to do with the deserters who have already begun trickling back. No one expects Obama to issue them a pardon. They'll have to plead their cases before the military command. Prosecution rates of deserters have increased during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts from 2 percent at the start to about 10 percent now (the remainder receive administrative punishments, like the loss of a stripe).

It's a real shame that 'helpers' up north wanted to refight Vietnam because of their own issues instead of helping today's resisters. (They lost their planned statue right before the resisters began pouring in and that apparently hurt a lot of feelings.) For the record, there are groups in Canada (and I give money to them) that have been successful in getting citizenship for resisters. They don't make a spectacle of themselves because the issue isn't them or what they did or didn't do during Vietnam. The issue is and has always been how to ensure that a resister doesn't have to return to the US. (
Elaine wrote about that group, which she also contributes to, in August of last year.) And resisters in Canada can forget about Barack, he will not help any returning deserters. He has taken the Carter position that if some had avoided the draft that was one thing but those who have left service will not be let off. No, we didn't have a draft but that is his position. It was the same position as Carter's which is boiled down as "It's not honorable to desert." [Carter referred to his actions as a pardon and not amnesty, he stated calling it amnesty would push the notion that their avoiding the draft was a 'correct' action and he did not believe it was.] Neither the assaults on Vietnam or Iraq were "honorable" and self-checking out was one of the bravest things anyone could do. Today's resisters deserve praise but they won't get from the White House and many believe they won't get it from the Canadian government.

Jessica Ramirez examines the effects of deployments on families in "Children Of Conflict" and finds that "roughly 890,000" parents have been deployed since September 11, 2001 and that "[t]he personal sacrifices of military kids can go unnoticed amid the grown-ups' struggles, in part because the scars they may sustain aren't necessarily the visible kind. But they are real and long-lasting, and they are not diminished by the fact that levels of violence in Iraq have dropped or that U.S. troops are no longer taking the lead on combat operations there." Christopher Anderson contributes a photo essay on Iraq and US forces in Iraq. Dan Ephron explores the War Porn Six Days in Fallujah. And an article by Daniel Stone, Eve Conant and John Barry on the effects at home for the returning:

Part of the trouble with long tours is the stress of holding together a normal life back home. "When you're gone o long, you put your whole life on hold," says Ohle. "You can't plan anything." That can be OK if you're single, but Ohle has been dating another Army intelligence officer who is in a different brigade. They met during a training exercise many years ago, and then in 2006 spent a few months together "downrange," as Ohle calls the combat zone. After that, the dating was long distance. They've been "together-together" only since February, and Ohle expects her boyfriend to deploy again sometimes this summer.
Whenever she comes back to the United States, Ohle faces culture shock similar to anyone who returns from a foreign land. She's overwhelmed by the food selection in the markets, and the number of people in the aisles. But unlike ordinary travelers, she also needs to keep her anger in check. "When someone with a shopping cart gets in your way, you can't just yell at them to get out of the way," she says. "Interacting with people requires a reset."

Most of the features are not available online. Fareed is but we don't link to trash. A West Point story is available online and we'll link to that. What does Colbert do in the issue besides 'guest editing'? He speaks to the readers on page five and contributes letters (the earliest from 1933) in his TV character complaining about Newsweek coverage over the ages (starting with 1933). He also does the Conventional Wisdom on page 15 and an essay on page 68.

Colbert's trip to Iraq resulted in Newsweek focusing on Iraq. It's not a great issue but it is attention to an ongoing illegal war and that is an accomplishment. I don't care for Colbert but I applaud him for that. It also got attention from the daily papers -- many of whom have also forgotten that the Iraq War continues to drag on. (
James Rainey (Los Angeles Times) covers Colbert's trip to Iraq.) AP reports members of Mississippi's National Guard's 155th Brigade Combat Team is preparing for its second deployment to Iraq and notes the previous deployment resulted in 14 deaths. WKYC reports 161 Ohians are deploying to Iraq ("part of the Ohio Army National Guard's 1192nd Engineer Company"). But because it's so very difficult for people to pay attention to Iraq, let's all pretend the war is over. That's how it works, right?

In Iraq today, a Sunni leader was assassinated. Ned
Parker and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) report Harith Obeidid "was gunned down by a teenager" in Baghdad. Obeid had been the leader of the Accordance Front. after shooting Obeidid twice in the head, the teenager than threw a grenade. BBC reports their correspondent "Jim Muir in Baghdad says the assumption will be that this attack was carried out by insurgents from Mr Obeidi's own Sunni community, who have often targeted Sunnis involved with the government." Michael Christie (Reuters) asks, "Could the killers be Shi'ites? Possibly, although suicidal attacks, as Friday's assassination appears to have been, are more often associated with Sunni extremists." Al Arabiya reports that Obeidid was one of 5 people killed in the attack and that twelve were left injured while the assassin was killed as he attempted to escape. KUNA notes that al-Maliki's government has declared 25-year-old Ahmed Jassim Ibrahim the assassin "in contrast to claims by Iraqi police who earlier mentioned he was only 15." In terms of possible motives, Al Arabiya explains, "Obaidi, born in 1966, was deputy chairman of parliament's human rights committee and on Thursday had called for an independent inquiry into torture and abuse of detainees in Iraq's prisons." Sahar Issa and Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) observe that Iraq's President Jalal Talabani went on TV to urge calm following the assassination and speak with MP Shatha al Obusi who serves on the Human Rights Committee and states Obaidi leaves behind a wife and eight children, that "he was a fun-loving man with an easy smile" and "I believe that he was targeted for these qualities by people who would not have him succeed. He was, and will continue to be, a role model to us regarding the issue of human rights and defending those who have fallen under injustice."

In other reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing destroyed a US military vehicle, another Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and left ten people injured and, dropping back to Thursday, a Karbala roadside bombing which claimed 2 lives and left four people injured. Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded six people.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baquba home invasion in which 2 people (mother and daughter) were killed. Reuters notes 2 Sahwa members were shot dead in Mussayab by a police officer who claims "they were planting a bomb".

Rod Nordland and Marc Santora (New York Times) report on the puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki hosting a praise-a-thon for himself. Nouri fancies himself the new strong man of Iraq, the new Saddam. And Nordland and Santora capture that as they note he's now positioned himself as commander in chief despite the fact that the Iraqi Constitution does not give him that power and that he received toadies yesterday who called him their "master" and "commander in chief" (the Ministry of the Defense being among the toadies). An unnamed US military officer attempted to attend but was sent packing by the one of 'master' Nouri's thugs.Drunk on the smell of Nouri's cheap cologne (truly, he wears the cheapest cologne and over wears it, a detail that's yet to make it into domestic reports) the puppet's puppets engaged in a circle jerk where they self-praised and pretended they were running the country. And, insert laughter, runnig it well.If you automatically thought "air force," the reporters go there. There is no Iraqi air force to speak of and the reporters have Gen Anwar Hama Ameen later admitting that it will take more than the optimistic US prediction of "tow and a half years" for the air force to be built. The reporters note that this and other realities were left out of the circle jerk. The paragraph that should haunt reads: "The tenor of the meeting reminded many of similar ones between Saddam Hussein and his commanders, which featured fawning speeches praising him, the use of the word 'master' when addressing him, and a recitation by a nationalist poet. In Thursday's case, the poem was a recent one denoucning terrorism."

So Nouri's the new Saddam and the air force is nowhere ready.
Jack Dolan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports more problems. Despite all the praise going down in the meeting with Nouri, turns out things are not so great. Iraqi forces are apparently not ready to take over the security functions in Mosul and reveals that issues include lack of ammunition and weapons and the 'hope' that the people of Mosul will work with Iraqi security forces.
Last night at the Washington Post, Perry Bacon Jr. reported that the Democrats in Congress had found some mutual understanding that would allow Barack's war funding supplemental to move forward, "The agreement was reached only after a letter from President Obama to a congressional committee saying that his administration would appeal to the Supreme Court to keep the photos from becoming public, rather than try for a Congressional ban as part of the war funding bill. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on Thursday stayed an earlier order that the photos be released immediately, so the government will now have time to appeal." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) offers, "The measure does not include language allowing indefinite detention as President Obama has initially proposed. The White House also dropped a request for a provision imposing a congressional ban on the release of photos showing the abuse of prisoners at US jails in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Obama said he will continue to seek the photos' censorship through an appeal to the Supreme Court." With more on the reassurance on suppressing the torture photos, Carl Hulse and David M. Herszenhorn (New York Times) explain, "The deal was concluded after Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, went to the Capitol to assure Senate Democrats that President Obama would use all admnistrative and legal means to prevent the photos' release. At the same time, a federal court issued a ruling effectively ensuring that the photos would not be released for months, if ever." Naftali Bendavid (Wall St. Journal) quotes Rahm stating, "I talked to the Senate Democrats -- everything's fine." Amy Goodman breaks down 'fine': "The war funding bill includes more than $90 billion for the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and is expected be voted on next week. In a letter to other House members who have previously opposed war funding, Congress members Lynn Woolsey of California and Dennis Kucinich of Ohio urged them to retain 'steadfast opposition' to the new bill. Speaking on the House floor, Kucinich said the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is based on 'aggression and lies'." Goodman goes on to quote some of US House Rep Dennis Kucinich's statement so those who need or prefer audio use the previous link but here's Kucinich's statement in full:

Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, had no intention or capability of attacking United Statess, had nothing to do with Al-Qaida's role in 9/11, and each and every statement made by the previous administration in support of going to war turned out to be false.
Yest here we are. A new administration and the same old war, with an expansion of the war in Afghanistan. We cannot afford these wars. We cannot aford these wars spiritually. They are wars of aggression and they are based on lies. We cannot afford these wars financially. They add trillions to our national debt and destroy our domestic agenda. We cannot afford the human costs of these wars, the loss of lives of our beloved troops and the deaths of innocent civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. So, why do we do this? Why do we keep funding wars when they are so obviously against truth and justice and when they undermine our military? These are matters of heart and conscience which must be explored. Our ability to bring an end to thse wars will be the real test of our power.

We'll note Kucinich and Lynn Woolsey's letters to their colleagues in part [PDF format warning,
click here for letter in full]:

Continued funding of war operations in Iraq ensures a continued occupation thereby undermining the stated U.S. goal for withdrawal by the end of 2010. Funds for Iraq should be dedicated to bringing all our troops and contractors home immediately. We must meet our moral obligation to rebuild Iraq and support viable solutions to the crises faced by the refugee and internally displaced populations. As such, the U.S. must maintain a continued commitment to the country of Iraq that does not include war or occupation.
Funding expanded combat operations in Afghanistan will not meet the security objectives of the U.S. Sending additional brave American service members to Afghanistan does nto increase security and it is not an act of diplomacy. This approach only encourages the Taliban and other insurgent groups to do likewise, while fueling their recruiting efforts. The bill ensured that the months and perhaps years ahead will be bloody. And the bill fails to present an exist strategy.
Voting down the funds for war honors the mandate to end the war in Iraq that was given to this body by the American people in November 2006. Futhermore, defeat of the War Supplemental sends a clear message about U.S. priorities at home and abroad.
Congress must use the power of the purse to end combat operations. When the War Supplemental conference comes to the Floor for a vote I urge you to continue to vote no.
Today the bufoons at CounterSpin yet again tried to pimp Barry O's Cairo speech. Reality on that speech via independent journalist
John Pilger via ZNet:

Naturally, unlike George W Bush, Obama did not say that "you're either with us or against us". He smiled the smile and uttered "many eloquent mood-music paragraphs and a smattering of quotations from the Holy Quran", noted the American international lawyer John Whitbeck. Beyond this, Obama offered no change, no plan, only a "tired, morally bankrupt American mantra [which] essentially argues that only the rich, the strong, the oppressors and the enforcers of injustice (notably the Americans and Israelis) have the right to use violence, while the poor, the weak, the oppressed and the victims of oppression must . . . submit to their fate and accept whatever crumbs their betters may magnanimously deign suitable to let fall from their table". And he offered not the slightest recognition that the world's most numerous victims of terrorism are people of Muslim faith - a terrorism of western origin that dares not speak its name. In his "reaching out" in Cairo, as in his "anti-nuclear" speech in Berlin, as in the "hope" he spun at his inauguration, this clever young politician is playing the part for which he was drafted and promoted. This is to present a benign, seductive, even celebrity face to American power, which can then proceed towards its strategic goal of dominance, regardless of the wishes of the rest of humanity and the rights and lives of our children.

Independent Peace Mom
Cindy Sheehan wondered recently:

I have integrity. I oppose war, torture, economic oppression and environmental degradation no matter who is in the White House or what political party he belongs to. I have been one of President Obama's earliest and most ardent critics, but where's the media coverage when I protest the carnage now that Obama is president? Where's Air America calling me to comment on the war crimes that Obama has already committed? Why won't most "progressive" online sites print my articles anymore (except, Oped News and

Cindy's on the road and heads to Nashville June 13th through 16th.
Click here for her full schedule for this month and we'll run the remaining dates next week. She was in Texas this week. Kimberly Kreitner (Daily Texan) reports on her stop in Austin where Cindy explained, "We have a Democratic party [in office], but nothing good is happening. It pays for war and coddles war cirminals. What's the difference between Democrats and Republicans? . . . People ask, 'How can peace be relevant during time of a peace president? Well, I don't like to go around and tell people there is no Santa Claus, but May was the deadliest month in Iraq [for U.S. Soldiers]." And apparently Lily Tomlin's Suzy Sorority attended Cindy's speech because an unnamed woman told Kreitner, "We already have enough negativity going on, and saying bad things about the Obama administration won't help anything." For those who don't remember Suzy Sorority of the Silent Majority, let's revisit one of Tomlin's Laugh-In skits:

Suzy Sorotiy: I'm a charter member of the YACF -- that's Young Americans for Connie Francis. Now there's a person with a lot of problems -- like what to wear to entertain the troops, things like that. But you don't see Connie shooting glue or smoking acid or getting low or smelling those LSMFT tablets. No sir! When something upsets Connie, she just sings her little heart out and the troubles of the world disappear.

In US military news,
Gina Cavallaro (Army Times) reports that the National Guard and Reserve fell short of their goals last month (623 short) but remain "comfortably ahead in their fiscal 2009 goals." Staffan De Mistura has always fallen short in Iraq and been an embarrassment for the United Nations. Alsumaria reports: "UN special envoy to Iraq Staffan de Mistura announced that he will leave his post shortly after a two years mission in Iraq. After meeting with Iraq's supreme religious authority Ali Husseini Al Sistani, De Mistura affirmed that the United Nations will pursue its work in Iraq as long as Iraq needs it noting that a good successor will take over." The United Nations work, under de Mistura, has been a joke for two years in Iraq. That goes beyond the cover for the occupation the UN has granted to include the blaming of the Iraqi women for the cholera outbreaks each fall, it goes to the refusal to address the Kirkuk issue, an issue that was supposed to be addressed long ago but which the UN has repeatedly given cover for and allowed to be sidestepped and postponed.

TV notes.
NOW on PBS begins airing tonight on many PBS stations (check local listings):The murder of Dr. George Tiller has reignited the abortion debate, and raised the question: should violence against medical doctors who perform abortions be viewed and prosecuted as domestic terrorism? This week NOW Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa sits down with two of the remaining handful of doctors who publicly acknowledge performing late abortions, including Leroy Carhart, a fellow doctor in Tiller's Wichita, Kansas clinic.Carhart discusses his vow to carry on Tiller's mission and what it's like for him and his family to live as "targets". The show also investigates claims that law enforcement dropped the ball when it came to stopping Tiller's alleged murderer, Scott Roeder.Hinojosa travels to Colorado as well to talk with Dr. Warren Hern, another late abortion provider who says he's been living "under siege" for decades. Dr. Hern works behind four layers of bulletproof windows and is now under round-the-clock federal protection.NOW goes into the eye of the abortion rights storm to see how Tiller's killing and its ramifications are impacting doctors, free speech, and a civilized society.
Bill Moyers Journal begins airing tonight on mnay PBS stations and he and Michael Winship have an essay on gun control:

You know by now that in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, an elderly white supremacist and anti-Semite named James W. von Brunn allegedly walked into the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum with a .22-caliber rifle and killed a security guard before being brought down himself. He's 88 years old, with a long record of hatred and paranoid fantasies about the Illuminati and a Global Zionist state. How bitter the bile that has curdled for so many decades.You will know, too, of the recent killing, while ushering at his local church, of Dr. George Tiller, one of the few doctors in the country still performing late term abortions. Sadly, this case was proof that fatal violence works. His family has announced that his Wichita, Kansas, clinic will not be reopened.You may be less familiar with the June 1st shootings in an army recruiting office in Little Rock that killed one soldier and wounded another. The suspect in question is an African-American Muslim convert who says he acted in retaliation for US military activity in the Middle East. Soon, however, these terrible deeds will be forgotten, as are already the three policemen killed by an assault weapon in Pittsburgh; the four policemen killed in Oakland, California; the 13 people gunned down in Binghamton, New York; the 10 in an Alabama shooting spree; five in Santa Clara, California; the eight dead in a North Carolina, nursing home. All during this year alone.There is much talk about hate talk; hate crimes against blacks, whites, immigrants, Muslims, Jews; about violence committed in the name of bigotry or religion. But why don't we talk about guns?We're arming ourselves to death. Even as gunshots ricocheted around the country, an amendment allowing concealed weapons in national parks snuck into the popular credit card reform bill. Another victory for the gun lobby, to sounds of silence from the White House.
Washington Week finds Ceci Connolly (Washington Post), Bara Vaida (National Journal), Tom Gjelten (NPR) and John Harris (Hedda Hopper Lives!) joining Gwen around the table. Also tonight on most PBS stations, Bonnie Erbe sits down with Melinda Henneberger, Susan Au Allen, Avis Jones-DeWeever and Tara Setmayer to discuss the week's news on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings. And turning to broadcast commerical TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:The Man Who KnewHarry Markopolos repeatedly told the Securities and Exchange Commission that Bernie Madoff's investment fund was a fraud. He was ignored, however, and investors lost billions of dollars. Steve Kroft reports. Watch VideoFor Better Or WorseForeigners who marry Americans are entitled to become permanent residents of the U.S., but in a stricter post-9/11 world, hundreds of widows are being asked to leave the country because their husbands died – even some whose children were born in the U.S. Bob Simon reports. Watch VideoAlice WatersShe has been cooking and preaching the virtues of fresh food grown in an environmentally friendly way for decades. A world-class restaurant and eight cookbooks to her credit, Alice Waters has become famous for her "slow food" approach – an antidote to fast food. Lesley Stahl reports. Watch Video60 Minutes, Sunday, June 14, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

iraqthe new york times
robert trumbull
perry bacon jr.the washington post
marc santorarod norlandcarl hulsedavid m. herszenhornalsumaria
the los angeles timesned parkermcclatchy newspapers
democracy nowamy goodman
john pilger60 minutescbs newsbill moyers journalto the contrarybonnie erbenow on pbs

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Thursday!!! We're almost to the weekend. Yea!!!

Friday I offered some of the news about the alleged spies for Cuba. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) mentioned them in headlines today and I thought I would include that:

A former State Department analyst and his wife have been denied bail following their arrest on allegations of being longtime spies for the Cuban government. Walter Kendall Myers and his wife Gwendolyn appeared in a Washington, DC courtroom on Wednesday after pleading not guilty to charges of conspiracy, being agents of a foreign government, and wire fraud.

I still don't believe that they're guilty, by the way. I do believe in Lambykins guilt. If you missed it, Lamby's highlighting a thing from Inside Iraq. The same thing C.I. highlighted hours before. (Corrente's timeline is PST. I believe that's due to former member Leah.) Beau caught in and e-mailed me to point it out and to point out how Lambykins (a) avoids Iraq and (b) does not highlight Inside Iraq (McClatchy's blog). Lambykins really does live to steal. Thanks to Beau for catching it.

Okay, Facebook. Don't use it. Not interested. Laugh at all the people 20 and 30 years older than me using it. I know it's got serious problems and some of those are addressed in the ACLU's "Quiz: What Do Facebook Quizzes Know About You?:"

(Originally posted on the ACLU of Northern California’s Bytes & Pieces blog.)
Ever whiled away five minutes on a Facebook quiz, finding out what cartoon character is your look-alike or how your IQ stacks up? These quizzes may seem like a perfectly harmless way to spend a few spare minutes. But have you stopped to think about what these quizzes are learning about you and how that info could be used? Take our quiz and learn more!
QUESTION 1: When you take a Facebook quiz, the quiz:
A. Is just for fun and doesn’t collect any info about you. B. Collects the info in your answers, but nothing else.C. Collects the info in your answers, has access to your profile, and may even be able to access your friends’ profiles.
This isn’t a back-of-the-magazine quiz — Facebook quizzes can collect and store the answers you give. But that’s not all: these quizzes can
collect the information in your profile — and even information from your friends’ profiles — in addition to any answers you give.
QUESTION 2: OK, that doesn’t sound good, but my privacy settings will protect my information, right? By default, Facebook’s privacy settings:
A. Prevent any application from seeing anything on my profile unless I install and use that application.B. Prevent applications from seeing anything on my profile if I have specific privacy settings for specific details on my profile.C. Allow applications — including those used by my friends — to access to my profile.
Facebook, no stranger to
controversy over its policies regarding user data, does not have policies in place that reassure users that their information is automatically kept private. By default, Facebook’s privacy settings let applications access information on your profile even if you have restricted access to a specific network or friend group (as application privacy settings are separate from profile privacy settings). In addition, Facebook’s default settings allow applications run by your friends to pull information from your profile. Surprised? Check out your settings and see for yourself!

There are plenty of reasons not to use Facebook -- including that it's a tool for old people! Last night we blogged about American Dad and I'm including those posts plus Cedric and Wally's joint-post:

Cedric's Big Mix
Letterman the dirty old man
20 hours ago

The Daily Jot
20 hours ago

Mikey Likes It!
World Can't Wait, Kelley B. Vlahos, American Dad
22 hours ago

Oh Boy It Never Ends
William Blu, American Dad, Roger & Hayley
22 hours ago

Trina's Kitchen
Roger and 'Of Ice And Men'
22 hours ago

Thomas Friedman is a Great Man
American Dad
22 hours ago

Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
'irregarding steve'
23 hours ago

Gloria Feldt, Bob Somerby, American Dad
23 hours ago

Ruth's Report
American Dad stem, stem, seed . . .
23 hours ago

Like Maria Said Paz
Deborah Vagins, World Can't Wait, American Dad
23 hours ago

Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
The do nothing Wartime Contracting Commission
23 hours ago

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, June 11, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US decides the best way to treat those who killed 5 US soldiers is to 'release them into the wild,' the DoD releases suicide data for the Army for last month, Iraqi refugees release a music album, and more.

"Our country has been in conflict for nearly eight years, service members and their families are bearing the brunt of multiple deployments, with no foreseeable end in sight. It is important that we uphold our responsibility to care for those who volunteer to serve our nationa in uniform and their families, given the sacrifices they are making in defense of our nation," declared US House Rep Susan Davis this morning as she brought the US House Armed Services Committee's Military Personnel Subcommittee to order. This was a mark up meeting -- mark up of HR 2647 -- and the legislation would create a 3.4% pay raise for the military (Barack has asked for a 2.9% increase) and it also includes monies for families such as spouse internships. Davis chairs the Subcommittee. Wilson is the Ranking Member and his big point was displeasure that the proposal was unable to address disabilities. Davis had noted that "we do not have the mandatory offsets to pay for this $5.1 billion proposal within the subcommittee. The Democratic leadership, however, is working with the committee and a resolution to the issue is expected." The mark was adopted by a unanmious vote. Mark ups are not hearings and we don't generally cover them but we're noting it for a few reasons including that Chair Davis has the nasty DC summer cold. (
Ava, Wally and I have it as well as Kat noted last night.) Second, some of her statements need to be noted and juxtaposed with what's going on in Iraq.

* Our country has been in conflict for nearly eight years, service members and their families are bearing the brunt of multiple deployments, with no foreseeable end in sight. It is important that we uphold our responsibility to care for those who volunteer to serve our nationa in uniform and their families, given the sacrifices they are making in defense of our nation.

* This is the Year of the Military Family, as such, we have included a number of initiatives that are focused on military families. These include a pilot program for spouse overseas area and a requirement for the Secretary of Defense to study the appropriateness of the current housing standards. These are just a few of the provisions that we have included to support our military families.

Those are Davis' statements and you can also toss in US House Rep Ellen Tauscher's remarks in the House Armed Services' Strategic Forces Subcommittee mark up this afternoon when Chair Tauscher thanked the Ranking Member for his work on HR 2647, "We don't agree on everything of course but we agree on more than we disagree and you are a great partner, Mike [Turner]."

To attend the mark up hearings was to see members of Congress working together to address the concerns of the military and, with Davis' Subcommittee especially, to address the concerns of the military members and their families. For a brief moment, you could almost believe that the families might be treated with respect and compassion. For a moment.

Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) makes clear that whatever Congress does or does not do, military families will be spat upon by the US government. So that we're all on the same page and also to take care of correction, let's drop back to yesterday's snapshot:

"They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it." That's Danny Chism
quoted by Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) yesterday. We noted it in yesterday's snapshot and Danny Chism's son, the late Jonathan Bryan Chism, is in the news today. McClatchy Newspapers buries a major story by Richard Mauer entitled "Who was behind Karbala assualt, in which 5 Americans died." January 23, 2007 the Department of Defense announced that four US soldiers "died in Jan 20 in Karbala, Iraq, from wounds sustained when their patrol was ambushed while conducting dismounted operations." The four were identified as Jacob N. Fritz, Jonathan B. Chism, Shawn P. Falter and Johnathon M. Millican. Also killed in the attack was Brian S. Freeman. Bryan Chism was from Louisiana and WAFB reported January 31, 2007 that the military was "trying to cover up the details of an incident in Iraq," that the four "were actually abducted from a tightly-secured American compound by an insurgent commando team. The insurgents were driving American vehicles, wearing American uniforms and carrying American weapons. In fact, on eof the kidnappers is reported to have even had blonde hair." Over two years later, Richard Mauer has uncovered additional details. "The men inside were dressed in U.S. army camouflage and carried American weapons," he reports. "They knew enough English to bark simple commands and offer polite greetings. They knew exactly how the U.S. soldiers would defend the compound. They knew that the compound's most important room was the command and control center -- with its radio base stations -- and they knew that at 6 p.m., the soldiers in the room would be off guard and relaxing. They even knew that the two most senior American officers in Karbala would be in the room next door." Via a Freedom of Information request, McClatchy just obtained an investigative report by the military which was completed February 27th and which "put the onus for intelligence-gathering and ground support [in the attack] on Iraqi police, America's supposed ally. Not only were police negligent in surrendering their guard positions to the intruders without firing a shot or warning the Americans, the report says, but investigators found strong circumstantial evidence that police officials gave the attackers key intelligence and may have been complicit in allowing an advance force of attackers into the compound."

Now drop back to yesterday's news. The US military traded the Iraqi prisoner said to be responsible for the murders -- traded him for five British hostages. Laith al-Khazali was traded. Was freed. Which is why Danny Chism was asking, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

First the correction. Mauer's excellent report was published by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Tuesday; however, it originally ran in 2007. Thank you to a friend at McClatchy who caught that and pointed it out to me. My apologies. With the basics above, we have five US soldiers who were killed in Iraq. The military's own study finds that the Iraqi police assisted in the attacks on the US military. If you haven't read Mauer's report, just to summarize quickly, various civilian Iraqis who worked on the base, often until ten thirty at night, failed to show up the day of the attack. All the Iraqi police, except for two, skipped out as well. The two who showed up? They made a point to unlock the gate that the attackers would come through. This was planned and it wa splanned with the help of al-Maliki's forces. It was planned and it was carefully carried out.

The US military believes that Laith al-Kahali and his brother orchestrated the assault. Over the weekend -- with no notice to the families of the five US soldiers killed in the attack -- the US military released al-Kahali. Today
Jane Arraf reports that Qais al-Khazali, the brother, is now expected to be released as well. An unnamed US official states, "This isn't about freeing the hostages" referring to the five British citizens held by the brothers' group for over two years now, "it's about getting Asa'ib al-Haq to stop its attacks."

I have no idea how that's going to play. In April of 2008, when The Davy Petraeus and Ryan Crocker Variety Hour played before various Congressional bodies, I would have thought there would be outrage over the 'strategy' Crocker and Petraeus spoke of and endorsed: Paying off Sahwa because that meant Sahwa wouldn't attack US troops or the equipment of US troops. Generally speaking, the appearance of strength doesn't come from forking over your lunch money to ensure you're not beat up on the playground. So maybe the above will again bother no one? But US soldiers were killed in an attack and the two thought responsible are being let out of prison, released to go free, and the US 'reasoning' is that "it's about getting Asa'ib al-Haq to stop its attacks"?

Okay, let's carry that 'logic' on out. I want
Leonard Peltier to be free (I really do want him to be free). So the message the US is sending is that I should drop advocacy within the system and instead begin launching attacks on US sites? (I don't believe in violence, before anyone fears I'm ab out to storm the Anna Sui Store in Manhattan.) That is the message that's being sent. And it's probably not the message an occupying power wants to send. Anyone who wants a prisoner freed in Iraq now knows how: Start launching attacks on the US military.

This little stunt was always questionable. It went against every basic in international relations theory but, as a one-off move, it could have been defended. The White House chose not to defend it (and reporters chose not to press on the issue). But now, as they release the second prisoner, and as they insist that the release is to get the brothers' group to stop attacking the US military in Iraq, this is an embarrassment that puts every US service member in Iraq in jeopardy.

It also says that US service members in Iraq are nothing but canon fodder. The illegal war was based on lies and there's no doubt about that at this late date. But the message being sent now, by the current administration, is that US service members are canon fodder and will be used and their deaths will be forgotten. The message sent is that they don't matter. While the military ranks are trained not to leave one of their injured or fallen behind, up in the brass the decision's been made that their lives don't matter and if they die and their killers can blackmail the US with continued attacks, their deaths will be dishonored in a rush to make their killers happy.

It's disgusting. And, again, it puts every US service member in Iraq at risk. (It also sends a larger geo-political message which is why it's so appalling that the press has refused to go after this story. Long after Barack is out of the White House, these moves will follow the United States.) The message is clear: "We will send you to Iraq. We will expect you to fight till your death. If you die we will honor your sacrifice up until the point that we can sell you out for our own benefit." That is the message sent to US troops when 2 killers -- who carried out one of the most well planned assaults on US forces in Iraq -- are freed because, a US official states publicly, "it's about getting Asa'ib al-Haq to stop its attacks."
And don't argue, as some may try, that getting Asa'ib al-Haq to stop attacking the US military means the US military will be safer. (A) They're not because they're now targets for anyone who wants the US to come to the negotiating table. And (B) anyone who wanted to the US military to be safe would have begun a full and total withdrawal of US forces from Iraq.

Arraf quotes an unnamed US State Dept official declaring of the moves, "This is what will have to happen. We did the same thing with Moqtada Sadr and the same thing with the SOIs [Sons of Iraq]." No, it is not the same thing at all. "Sons Of Iraq" and "Awakening" are the same thing as Sahwa.
We addressed this earlier this week and we'll note it again. "The United States doesn't negotiate with terrorists!" Of course they do. And they do it on a case-by-case basis and have always done so. The hard-line public stance is not, however, merely a face-saving device for whomever is president (it may or may not be that), it's also based on the belief that if it is known that the US negotiates with terrorists that puts every US citizen abroad at risk of being kidnapped in order to force the government of the United States to do as a group or organization wants it to.Sahwa are Sunnis who turned from resistance fighters (fighting all foreign forces in Iraq including the US) into allies because they were paid. And when that began happening, a number of people were outraged. Arianna Huffington was among the ones outraged and apparently didn't understand that for any war to end, all sides need to come to the table and begin negotiations.(That was a point Tom Hayden could make back before he became scared of his own shadow. In part because Laura Flanders attacked him, after he'd hung up the phone, on air for comments he'd made about who comes to the table and how. She viciously attacked him and then, realizing she'd gone way too far, she tried to blame it on her radio show's blog but none of the comments she made appeared on her show's blog.)Sahwa was willing to put down their arms (at least against the US) if paid. And they didn't propose that arrangement. The US military initiated that and it took approximately eight months of offers before there was any move from Sahwa in that direction.That's Sahwa. Asa'ib al-Haq is not a Sunni organization. It's a Shi'ite organization. Thought to be supported by some segment (government or otherwise) in Iran. Yes, there is humor to this considering that for years Michael Gordon preached war on Iran with the 'facts' that Iran was supporting Sunnis.That's only one difference.The other is that Sahwa wasn't holding anyone. By holding five hostages, Asa'ib al-Haq is different than Sahwa and whether or not the US should have released a prisoner or even had talks with Asa'ib al-Haq is a major issue and it's one that's going to remain long after Barack Obama leaves the White House.The US never addressed Nouri al-Maliki's disdain for the press nor his assaults on them. (US actions against journalists in Iraq, in fact, encouraged al-Maliki's own actions.) An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy shares what it's like to attempt to report from Iraq, where al-Maliki's thugs think they can make their own rules:

After one hour of suffering, I reached the place and the cars which picked the journalists moved to the place. We waited for about 15 minutes near the gate of the ministry. This short time was more than enough for a problem to happen. The guards of the ministry of displaced and immigrants which is near the defense ministry told us that we have to gatherr in one place and we are not allowed to spread in the street. That was enough to get everyone crazy. I told the guard that he doesn't have the right to say so because we are waiting for the permission to enter the defense ministry. he said "this is the gate of a ministry" I was really surprised but I quickly answered him "yes an Iraqi ministry for all Iraqis and we are Iraqis and you must realize that the ministry doesn't own the street." He ordered me to move but I refused and told him simply "Its an Iraqi street and I can stand wherever I like." The discussion got hotter but after some reporters involved, some of them asked me in a very nice way to ignore the guard and I did.

The US had just installed Nouri al-Maliki a little over a month before he began his first noted assault on the press (part of his 'crackdown' ideas -- the bulk of which, such as neighborhood watch militias, had already been set up but al-Maliki contributed the attack on journalism all by himself). Life was already deadly for journalists in Iraqi (both Iraqi journalists and foreign ones) before al-Maliki but the strong man has shaped the country more than most realize. (They also don't grasp that he's attempting to set himself up for life, to become the new Saddam.) The attacks include the daily abuses. For example, a gun pulled on a New York Times journalist and the trigger pulled . . . as a 'joke.' And no one gets disciplined for that. Nouri fosters and encourages the hostility towards the journalists. Nouri repeatedly threatens them. Time and again, like the Insane Rosa Brooks, he floats the idea that he will acredit them and determine who is and isn't a journalist or that he will bring punishment down on them. He's currently brought at least two lawsuits against journalists. He's been at war with journalism since the US installed him as prime minister. The Committee to Protect Journalists' "
CPJ, JFO cite press freedom abuses in Iraq" contains a letter they sent al-Maliki:Dear Prime Minister al-Maliki, The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) would like to bring to your attention several issues that harm press freedom in Iraq. In recent months, our organizations have documented a number of assaults and instances of harassment committed by government officials against journalists in various parts of the country under the control of Iraq's central government. Since 2003, the press in Iraq has made significant strides as hundreds of independent, party- or state-run newspapers, radio and television stations have emerged. Unfortunately, along with that progress Iraqi journalists have paid a steep price. For the past six years Iraq has topped CPJ's list as the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. As of June 9, CPJ has documented the deaths of 139 journalists and 51 media workers in Iraq since March 2003. Three were killed this year. JFO's records shows an even higher number of killed journalists and media workers. In May, at the Iraqi Journalism Summit in Baghdad, you said, "We are proud that we don't have a single imprisoned journalist because of freedom of expression." CPJ and the Observatory commend your government for this, but call on you to press the U.S. military to release Reuters photographer Ibrahim Jassam, who has been held in a U.S. military prison since September 2008 without charge. In recent months many journalists have faced harassment and in some cases assault by Iraqi security forces. In other cases, high-ranking government officials have used lawsuits as a political tool to obstruct and silence the news media. In order to improve the working environment for journalists in Iraq, CPJ and JFO call on your government to take the following steps: Press the U.S. military to respect the decision of the Iraqi courts and immediately release Ibrahim Jassam. Publicly condemn violent attacks and acts of intimidation against journalists. Investigate and bring to justice those who are responsible for killing, attacking, or harassing journalists. Direct government agencies to halt the filing of filing politically motivated lawsuits against journalists and publications. Direct all relevant security and military forces to end the use of force to harass or prevent journalists from doing their work. Suspend or amend articles 81, 82, 83, 84, 201, 202, 210, 211, 215, 225, 226, 227, 403, 433 and 434 of Law 111/1969, more commonly known as the 1969 penal code. These provisions criminalize and set harsh penalties for press related offenses.Ensure all other laws, present and future, are in compliance with international standards for free expression. Attached to this letter is a short report in which CPJ and JFO document with more specificity violations against journalists since the beginning of this year. Thank you in advance for your attention to these important matters. We look forward for your response. Sincerely, Joel Simon Executive Director, CPJ Ziad al-Ajily Director, JFO
While the press remains under attack, three US contractors have been released following the arrest of five over the weekend. Late yesterday,
Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reported, "The men had been freed on bail, but were forbidden to leave Iraq during the ongoing investigation into the death of Jim Kitterman, a 60-year-old construction contractor from Texas, said Rafae Munahe, a senior advisor to Interiot Minister Jawad Bolani." BBC observes, "The US embassy in Iraq has confirmed the release of only one man so far." Al Arabiya quotes Judge Abdel Sattar Birakdar stating, "The other two arrested are still in jail because it was discovered they committed another crime and investigations are ongoing with them." In other legal news, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explained this morning, "The private military firm formerly known as Blackwater is facing a new lawsuit over the August 2007 killing of an Iraqi civilian in Hilla. The case was filed on behalf of the surviving relatives of seventy-five-year-old Husain Salih Rabea. At the time, Rabea's relatives said he had pulled over to the side of the road to let a Blackwater convoy pass. The last vehicle in the convoy allegedly opened fire when Rabea pulled back onto the road. The suit also alleges Blackwater employees are guarding employees of the International Republican Institute in Iraq despite an Iraqi government ban."
Back to al-Maliki. When not attacking the press, Nouri likes to terrorize and scare the Iraqi people.
Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports that Nouri's making more threatening noises, insisting that violence will likely increase between now and the elections (currently scheduled for January but they may end up pushed back). Between now and the elections? Yes, that would be over six months. Yes, that would be over half a year. He apparently figured (rightly) that the United Nations would be issuing the same warning shortly (as they did ahead of the provincial elections held in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces last January 31st) and he wanted to get a jump on them. Chon notes national elections have now been merged with the referendum on the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. Noting that again in case any Spency Ackerman's still haven't caught on that the vote on the referendum which was supposed to take place next month has been kicked back to January. Waleed Ibrahim, Daniel Wallis, Michael Christie and Angus MacSwan (Reuters) quote Jawad al-Bolani, Minister of the Interior, stating, "The referendum is a part of law and discussions are ongoing among the ministers and the council of representatives." al-Bolani, of course, does what Nouri wants and, more to the point, the statement was made after al-Bolani met with US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill. The US government wants the vote delayed as well.

Turning to the topic of refugees,
Dalia al-Achi (UNHCR) reports that Iraqi refugees Salim Salem, Abdel Mounem Ahmad and Fadi Fares have released an album entitled Transitions (available on iTunes, Amazon, Npaster, etc.) which will raise money for refugees. The three teamed up in Damascus. The 15 track album can be downloaded at Amazon for $7.99 and includes such tracks as "Night In Baghdad," "Iraqi Sorrow," "Joy," "If Only We Could Leave" and "Where the Wind Will Take Us." Meanwhile New York Times employee and Iraqi refugee who came to the US Sahar S. Gabriel announced Monday (NYT's Baghdad Bureau Blog) that she had found a job "the old-fashioned way. The same way we find jobs in Iraq. You ask friends and relatives and see if they have an acquaintance or two who has a job to offer or a position to be filled."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClathcy Newspapers) reports a Tikrit rocket explosion which killed two children (a boy and a girl), a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and left one police officer and four people wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured four people, a Baghdad sticky bombing which wounded three and a Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and left four more injured. Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing which left one US soldier and one Iraqi civilian injured and a Mosul car bombing which injured three Iraqi soldiers and one Iraqi civillian. DPA reports a Kirkuk car bombing which claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers and left nine more wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Tikrit.

Yesterday's "
Iraq snapshot" covered the US House Oversight and Government Reform's National Security Subcommittee and Kat's "The do nothing Wartime Contracting Commission" last night continued the coverage. Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot" covered the US House Veterans Affairs Health Subcommittee hearing and Kat's "Assessing CARES and the Future of VA's Health Infrastructure" continued the coverage. Tonight she's covering Congress again and it's an interesting thing which I don't think you'll find anywhere else because I didn't see any reporters present. So she'll capture something and I think it's fair to call it a rare emotional moment in Congress. And I don't mean that ("emotional moment") in a derogatory way. Moving on, in the markup of Susan Davis' Subcommittee today the issue of dwell time was noted for the US Army. Jeff Schogol (Stars and Stripes) reports that US Marine Corps Commandant Gen James Conway declared today that "almost all Marines [were] expected to leave Iraq next spring" and this will allow for more dwell time. Whether that ends up being the case or not is debatable. Marine leadership has repeatedly voiced their desire to leave Iraq and 'focus on' Afghanistan over the last years.

Today the
Defense Dept released Army suicide data for the month of May: "one confirmed suicide and 16 potential suicides among active duty soldiers." In the press release, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen Peter W. Chiarelli is quoted stating, "We have got to do better. It's clear we have not found full solutions to this yet. But we are trying ever remedy and seeking help from outside agencies that are experts in suicide prevention. There isn't a reasonable suicide prevention tool that the Army won't potentially employ."

jane arraf gina chonthe wall street journalthe los angeles timesned parkermcclatchy newspapers
democracy nowamy goodman
kats kornerthe daily jot

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

World Can't Wait, Kelley B. Vlahos, American Dad

Hump day, hump day!!!! And big thanks to C.I. My computer would not boot up. I kept getting an error message. I could've (and probably should've) gone to the cpu and logged on but I was trying to fix the laptop and then Elaine had the same problem with her's at which point we called C.I. to figure out what was going on. After a bit, C.I. figured out what was wrong and how to fix it.

Okay, this is World Can't Wait's "We Are Not Your Soldiers All Ages F*ck the Army!!! Benefit/Show :"

A radical show to raise money and awareness for The We Are Not Your Soldiers Tour, a project of World Can't Wait. This tour is needed now more than ever. Obama is leaving 50,000 troops in Iraq and escalating the war of terror in Afghanistan by sending an estimated of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan and plans to boost an estimated 92,000 troops into the military. Where will all these troops that Obama is sending come from? The military recruiters have budget of billions to recruit youth who are in high school now. They roam the hallways and lunch-rooms, call students at home, and set up at malls where kids hang out. The military cannot fight this expanded “war on terror” in Afghanistan without this fresh cannon fodder. Military recruiters now have almost unlimited access to reach high school students because the “No Child Left Behind” law ties funding for schools to whether recruiters can get to students.

Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports that three of the five US citizens arrested over the weekend by Iraqi police have been released: "The men had been freed on bail, but were forbidden to leave Iraq during the ongoing investigation into the death of Jim Kitterman, a 60-year-old construction contractor from Texas, said Rafae Munahe, a senior advisor to Interiot Minister Jawad Bolani." That's an update to the snapshot.

Tonight we're all writing about American Dad which is a funny show. I'm not crazy about Family Guy but American Dad is funny. (My dad and my older brother love this show. Check out my mother's "Boston Globe" by the way.) My favorite episode is . . .

Roger's my favorite character. He's hilarious. I love when he pranks Tony Blair with a call. "British Prime Minister Tony Blair? Guess what? Chicken butt!" :D That same episode (the one where Hayley's sleeping with her dad's boss) has Roger saying, "I dreamt of Paris again last night." To no one. He's just so funny.

I love Roger.

He's twisted.

I love the episode where he and Stan trade places and Stan really turns into a Roger. And I love the one where Roger is cheating on the Smiths with another family. And the one where Steve steals Roger's cookie and tells him "You snooze, you lose." That sets Roger off to destroy Steve and convince Steve that's he's adopted.

But my favorite is when Hayley has to do something for extra credit and ends up working in Roger's bar. Roger's bar is the attic. It's all pretend. And Roger and Hayley have a face off dress up. It's very funny. Roger's really the best. Hayley's pretty cool too.

Ok, this is from Kelley B. Vlahos' "US Troops Out of Iraqi Cities? Think Again" and she's probably a libeterain, just FYI:

Anyone who has been tracking the supposed plan for U.S. withdrawal of Iraq, as agreed to by the outgoing Bush administration and the Iraqi government in the status of forces agreement (SOFA), has been led in recent months down one desert rabbit hole to another. The national media seems incurious about where it all goes. Alice, too, wondered whether it was worth it "to ask" during her own plunge down the earthen tunnel: "No, it’ll never do to ask; perhaps I shall see it written up somewhere."
Just last week, within a 48-hour news period, readers were treated to two diametrically opposed headlines, one touting "
U.S. Forces Out of Iraqi Cities by June 30," the other, the very next day, "U.S. Wants Sadr City Base Open After Deadline." Both quote U.S. military brass directly, albeit two different generals, but the whipsawing here suggests someone up top is taking it for granted that Americans – particularly that flighty media – aren’t paying much attention to Iraq at all.
So, through the din, lazy heads fix upon the first, less controversial of the two contradictory headlines, which affirms what the president wants to the world to hear: that the U.S. is getting out of Iraqi cities by the end of the month.
Except it isn’t entirely true. For those following bread crumbs like an abandoned Hansel or Gretel, it is difficult not to see that.
It all began with the meager morsels cast about by Gen. Raymond Odierno, who leads the U.S. forces in Iraq, in early spring. In a spate of press interviews in one week, he essentially suggested that the Americans had yet to decide whether to stay in some of the remaining urban hotbeds like Mosul and Baquba beyond the deadline.

I'm highlighting that for two reasons. First off, she's one of the few following the Iraq War. I know how much work C.I. puts in and I'm sure Kelley's working just as hard. Second, Thomas E. Ricks had a hissy fit at her awhile back and I told myself that I would highlight her next time she had something as a result. That was above. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, song-and-dance before Congress on corruption, the State Dept gets pressed on the persecution of Iraq's LGBT community, Iraq police apparently helped in the slaughter of 5 US soldiers (and, oh yeah, this relates to the prisoner the US just turned over to Iraq), and more.

A new bombing results in massive fatalities.
BBC Radio reported on the bombing earlier today.

Mike Cooper: A car bomb has exploded in southern Iraq killing at least 28 people around 40 others were wounded. Nicholas Witchell has more from Baghdad.

Nicholas Witchell: The explosion happened in a crowded market in al Bathaa about 30 kilometers west of Nasiriyah one of the main cities in southern Iraq. This is a Shi'ite area which has been relatively free from violence in recent months. No group has said it carried out the attack but Sunni insurgents aligned to al Qaeda will inevitably be expected. Iraq is more peaceful now but there are concerns that insurgent groups may be trying to take advantage of the current withdrawal of US troops from Iraq's towns and cities to try to provoke renewed sectarian conflict.

Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) explains, "The area has been the scene of violence between Shiite militias that have fought each other." Anne Barker (Australia's ABC -- text and a video clip from Lateline) reports, "The bomb ripped through a crowded market place in a Shiite Muslim town near Nassairya, in southern Iraq. Children are said to be among the dead." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the wounded number over seventy-five. BBC video shows the remains of a charred car and a street being hosed down as people cry and hug one another and an angry male waives a blood soaked cloth at the camera. Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) quotes survivor Abu Sara stating, "It felt as if there was an earthquake beneath me." Sky News reports, "The police chief in Bathaa, a predominantly Shia Muslim town 25 miles west of Nasiriyah, has been fired following the attack. Angry residents protested when he arrived at the scene of the explosion with the local governor." How angry? Rod Nordland (New York Times) reports the crowd "began stoning the police, blaming them for lax secuirty." Al Jazeera quotes eye witness Hussein Salim declaring, "The police neglected their job. How could the car enter the market? It was crowed with people." The Telegraph of London notes that "an inquiry has been launched to determine whether the police could have prevented the bombing." The United Nations' Staffan de Mistura has declared the bombing "a cruel crime against innocent civilians that aims to derail Iraq' stability." 35 is the numbr many outlets are going with for the dead (the UN is also going with 35). CBS News offers a video report here.

Charlie D'Agata: Iraqis tried to console each other after a violent bomb blast robbed them of the people they loved. Police say the car bomb tore through a crowded market about 200 miles south of Baghdad. Dozens are dead -- including several women and children. Many more wounded. 'People were just sitting there selling their goods,' he says, 'then the bomb went off.' The attack comes just weeks before the US forces are due to withdraw from major towns and cities in Iraq. It's the deadliest blast to hit the area in almost six years. Nobody has taken responsibility but a number of recent assaults have been blamed on Sunni militants linked to al Qaeda. Many fear as America pulls back its troops militants will step in and step up their attacks. Charlie D'Agata, CBS News.

"They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it." That's Danny Chism
quoted by Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) yesterday. We noted it in yesterday's snapshot and Danny Chism's son, the late Jonathan Bryan Chism, is in the news today. McClatchy Newspapers buries a major story by Richard Mauer entitled "Who was behind Karbala assualt, in which 5 Americans died." January 23, 2007 the Department of Defense announced that four US soldiers "died in Jan 20 in Karbala, Iraq, from wounds sustained when their patrol was ambushed while conducting dismounted operations." The four were identified as Jacob N. Fritz, Jonathan B. Chism, Shawn P. Falter and Johnathon M. Millican. Also killed in the attack was Brian S. Freeman. Bryan Chism was from Louisiana and WAFB reported January 31, 2007 that the military was "trying to cover up the details of an incident in Iraq," that the four "were actually abducted from a tightly-secured American compound by an insurgent commando team. The insurgents were driving American vehicles, wearing American uniforms and carrying American weapons. In fact, on eof the kidnappers is reported to have even had blonde hair." Over two years later, Richard Mauer has uncovered additional details. "The men inside were dressed in U.S. army camouflage and carried American weapons," he reports. "They knew enough English to bark simple commands and offer polite greetings. They knew exactly how the U.S. soldiers would defend the compound. They knew that the compound's most important room was the command and control center -- with its radio base stations -- and they knew that at 6 p.m., the soldiers in the room would be off guard and relaxing. They even knew that the two most senior American officers in Karbala would be in the room next door." Via a Freedom of Information request, McClatchy just obtained an investigative report by the military which was completed February 27th and which "put the onus for intelligence-gathering and ground support [in the attack] on Iraqi police, America's supposed ally. Not only were police negligent in surrendering their guard positions to the intruders without firing a shot or warning the Americans, the report says, but investigators found strong circumstantial evidence that police officials gave the attackers key intelligence and may have been complicit in allowing an advance force of attackers into the compound."

Now drop back to yesterday's news. The US military traded the Iraqi prisoner said to be responsible for the murders -- traded him for five British hostages. Laith al-Khazali was traded. Was freed. Which is why Danny Chism was asking, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it." At
Bryan's MySpace page, his brother Steve left this message May 25th:Sup bro? Well its memorial day and it sucks pretty bad to still not have you here. We miss you alot, dad says he misses you too and thinks about you all the time. Seems like people are starting to forget about you or something, wtf, the last comment you got was a month ago, i dk, maybe people are just busy these days. Well R.I.P. and remember your gunna be an uncle in a few more months. Love you bro and miss you alot. His brother remembers him. His family remembers him. The government that sent him to Iraq? They apparently don't give a damn. They didn't even have the decency to give his family a heads up before releasing his presumed killer.

Five US citizens were arrested in Iraq over the weekend allegedly as part of the investigation into the murder of Jim Kitterman in the Green Zone last month. The US government and the Iraqi government refused to identify the five. John Feeney told the press the five included his father Donald Feeney Jr. and his brother Donald Feeney III. John Feeney has repeatedly maintained to various news outlets that his brother and father were innocent.
CNN reports that one has been released today and the other four are due to be released shortly. Michael Christie (Reuters) identifies the released as Don Feeney Jr. and identifies those still held as Don "Buddy" Feeney (John's brother), Mark Bridges, Jason Jones and Micah Milligan. Christie does not report that the other four are due to be released.

Spency Ackerman -- the never-ending joke. The man The New Republic dumped (how bad do you have to be to get fired by The New Republic? Seriously)
showed up this morning at 10:18 thrilled with Alissa J. Rubin's article in the New York Times and excited over the July referendum. Poor Spency The Spazz, this morning (long bfore he posted) it was already known that the referendum had been moved to January. In fact, we'll just quote ourselves from this morning for the topic Rubin was reporting on. In this morning's New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin offers "Iraq Moves Ahead With Vote on U.S. Security Pact" and that's the problem with print, her article's already out of date. Alsumaria reports, "Cabinet spokesman Ali Al Dabbagh announced that the government plans to conduct a referendum on the security pact signed between Baghdad and Washington in parallel with general elections." Rubin's report rests on the vote taking place in July. The vote has been pushed back to January. (Presuming general elections are held in January. They were supposed to be held in December but got pushed back to January. Who knows if they'll be pushed back again?)Rubin's covering the Status Of Forces Agreement. The Iraqi Parliament voted on it Thanksgiving Day in 2008. 149 members of Parliament voted for the treaty. There are 275 members of Parliament. The treaty then went to the country's Presidency Council for the vote. The SOFA passed in the Parliament due to many members going AWOL and due to those present insisting on a national referendum to give the Iraqi people a voice on the issue. That referendum was supposed to take place next month. Rubin reports:But senior lawmakers appeared to think that a change in the date was unlikely. Under current law, the referendum would be held on July 30. In order to change the date, the cabinet would have to submit a new draft law on the timing of the vote to Parliament, which would then have to move it through the lengthy parliamentary process for considering legislation."The date was an essential part of the security agreement," said Ali Adeeb, a member of the Dawa Party, led by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.The Parliament speaker, Ayad al-Sammaraie, a Sunni lawmaker from the Iraqi Islamic Party, held the same view. "No one can say they don't want a referendum, it is a law," Mr. Sammaraie said in a recent interview. Rubin refers to how a vote against the SOFA would mean that a year from now the US would be forced out of Iraq. She's referring to Article 30 The Period for which the Agreement is Effective, paragraph three: "This Agreement shall terminate one year after a Party provides written notification to the other Party to that effect." The parties are the US and Iraq. The 'binding' contract was never binding ( "This Agreement shall be amended only with the official agrement of the Parties in writing and in accordance with the constitutional proceudures in effect in both countries."). Only the first year could be seen as such and even then it could be altered in terms of details. 2009 was only binding in that it would cover 2009 (meaning that even if the Iraqi government declared January 2, 2009 "We are breaking this agreement!" they would be bound to it for one year). As Rubin notes there is hostility to US forces. She offers that only the Kurds might vote strongly in favor of the SOFA -- and that this expectation might result in increasing Arabic objection to the SOFA.

Yesterday Boston's The Edge offered Seth Michael Donsky's "
Life Only Gets Worse for LGBT Iraqis :: Part 2" (click here for the earlier part one):

Scott Long, director of Human Rights Watch's LGBT Rights Program, substantiates the claim that Iraqi government is tacitly encouraging the violence by ignoring the victims and overlooking the perpetuators. "It's true," he says, " that the government has been unable to restrain violence in the past, particularly during the virtual civil war of 2004-2007--but it has a vested interest in denying widespread violence directed at any group is returning in the supposedly 'stabilized' Iraq."In early April, the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, in response to questions from the Western media and from Western embassies in Baghdad, acknowledged that gays were being killed, but claimed that is was all the consequence of familial, or tribal, violence. "It was a pro forma acknowledgement," says Long. Long believes the acknowledgement was primarily meant to distract attention from the organized nature of the killings and the involvement of the militias. As recently as two weeks ago ABC news reported, in conjunction with the murder of the two young, gay men in Baghdad's Sadr City slum, that an unnamed Iraqi military source linked the killings to tribal violence and not militias. They quoted their source as saying that the men who were killed were "sexual deviants," saying that their tribes killed them to restore "family honor." "Unfortunately," says Long, "much of the Western press, as well as LGBT activists in the US and Europe, have bought the Ministry's version and have stopped asking systematic questions about the militia's involvement or even the government's own role."

The United Nations made a statement today on the bombings. In addition the United Nations
offered a statement on the death of reporter Alass Abdel-Wehab (he died last month, the UN offered their statement today). To date, they have offered no statement on any of the many gays, lesbians and transgendered Iraqis killed for who they were. They have not called out the targeting or the persecution of the LGBT community in Iraq. The US State Dept has offered lies and silence. They alternate between the two. US House Rep Jared Polis sent a letter to the then-acting US ambassador to Iraq asking that she follow up on the reports of persecution and targeting. Chris Hill is now the US Ambassador to Iraq and became it shortly after Polis' request. He has made no public statement. Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) interviews him and the topic is not addressed (by either Chon or Hill) and you can click here for an edited transcript of the interview. The UK's Lesbian and Gay Foundation is calling for a march in Manchester this Saturday and they note: "There were 452 homophobic hate crime reports in Greater Manchester from 2008 to 2009. On a national level, last year alone we lost Michael Causer, Ronald Dixon and Gerry Edwards in alleged homophobic attacks. On a global scale we have seen anti gay campaigns in Iraq which have resulted in the deaths of over sixty men, Eastern European gay Pride demonstrations outlawed or broken up, and the passing of Proposition 8 in California has resulted in inequality for the state's gay population." But the UN and the State Dept remain silent as does Barry O and the White House. The White House that no longer pushes to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the White House which invites homophobes for inaugural events (just as Barry O put homophobes on stage repeatedly during his primary and general campaigns in 2007 and 2008).

Today Ian Kelly, State Dept spokesperson the BBC raised the issue: "The other week Muqtada al-Sadr said that the depravity of homosexuality must be eradicated. And while he went on to say that he was not advocating violence, there obviously has been a lot of rather gruesome violence directed at gays and lesbians in Iraq. So I was wondering if State has any reaction to that? And then off the back of that, is there any extra responsibility that the U.S. feels towards these groups who were, by their accounts, safer and more free to live their lives under Saddam?"

Ian Kelly: Well, let me say that, in general, we absolutely condemn acts of violence and human rights violations committed against individuals in Iraq because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is an issue that we've been following very closely since we have been made aware of these allegations, and we are aware of the allegations. Our training for Iraqi security forces includes instruction on the proper observance of human rights. Human rights training is also a very important part of our and other international donors' civilian capacity-building efforts in Iraq. And the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has raised and will continue to raise the issue with senior officials from the Government of Iraq, and has urged them to respond appropriately to all credible reports of violence against gay and lesbian Iraqis.

Human rights traning is not, as the State Dept does it, LGBT rights training. That's covered in Seth Michael Donsky's "
Life Only Gets Worse for LGBT Iraqis :: Part 2" and Ian Kelly knows that and chose to use 'human rights training' as a smokescreen. It's a real shame that the press refuses to explore the issue and that when it's finally raised we get more tired questions on the same never-ending issues that have been asked at the US State Dept for over thirty years now. Truly appalling. Is the press corps on automatic?

Turning to some of today's other reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report a Baghdad mortar attack which left four people wounded, another Baghdad mortar attack which hit a home and also wounded four and a Kirkuk explosion which killed 2 people (possibly two people placing a bomb in the road for others to die from). Reuters notes a Falluja roadside bombing which left two police officers injured. Telegraph of London notes a Falluja motorcycle bombing which left five people wounded. Yesterday a Falluja motorcycle bombing left nine injured.


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report 1 police officer wounded by sniper fire in Mosul.


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report 1 corpse discovered in Mosul.

Today the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan released [PDF format warning] "
At What Cost? Contingency Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan Interim Report June 2009" which found:

** Neither the military nor the federal civilian acquisition workforces haveexpanded to keep pace with recent years' enormous growth in the number andvalue of contingency contracts. ** Contracting agencies must provide better and more timely training foremployees who manage contracts and oversee contractors' performance. Inparticular, members of the military assigned to perform on‐site performanceoversight as contracting officer's representatives often do not learn of theassignment until their unit arrives in theater, and then find insufficient time andInternet access to complete necessary training. ** Contract auditors are not employed effectively in contingency contracting. ** Contracting officials make ineffective use of contract withhold provisionsrecommended by their auditors, and many contract audit findings andrecommendations are not properly resolved. ** The government still lacks clear standards and policy on inherentlygovernmental functions. This shortcoming has immediate salience given thedecisions to use contractors in armed‐security and life‐support tasks for militaryunits.

Robert O'Harrow Jr. (Washington Post) observes of the report, "It's a sad reminder about just how bad the contracting system has been in recent years, and all the billions that have been wasted because of poor oversight, poor planning and plain old corruption." The report actually offers some blame as opposed to the usual pretend no one could have forseen the problems: "The Department of Defense has failed to provide enough staff to perform adequate contract oversight." US House Rep Stephen Lynch put it more bluntly today, "It's only happening because it's taxpayers' dollars." Exactly. The co-chairs of the Commission on Wartime Contracting, Michael Thibault and Chistopher Shays, appeared before the the US House Oversight and Government Reform's National Security Subcommittee and that's where Lynch made his remark. The co-chairs reviewed the report in their testimony and classified as an "immediate concern" the possibility that waste will take place as US forces draw down in Iraq as a result of lack of oversight and the handling and disposing of property. In Iraq, there is also a shortage of US government employees who posses the qualifications to monitor and supervise private security and this is on top of the fact that the 'security' is often ill trained and ignorant of the Rules for the Use of Force. US House Rep John F. Tierney chairs the committee. In his opening statements, he outlined potential problems (I'd say they were problems):

US House Rep John Tierney: It is also important that the Commission break new ground. There is no sense in creating an oversight entity that merely duplicates work that is on-going by Inspectors General or the Government Accountability Office. Congress already receives those reports. I look forward to hearing what the Commission is finding that we have not already heard about. In short, I expect our witnesses this morning to ensure us that our investment in their activities was a worthwhile decision. We in Congress --as the sponsors of the Commission -- need to hear about any challenges or hindrances the Commission faces in conducting its work. For example, I am concerned that the Commission will not be able to fulfill its mandate without a semi-permanent presence in theater. I would note that, according to the report, the Commission has only made two trips to date to Iraq and Afghanistan. I am also concerned that the current one year mandate of the Commission might allow responsible government officials and culpable contractors to wait it out. The Commission's charge is too important to suffer defeat at the hands of obstruction. Furthermore, I do not want to see a lack of subpoena power deter the Commission from going after recalcitrant parties.

Two trips? December '08 was the first trip according to Chris Shays testimony to the Subcommittee today. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was just in Iraq last February (Feb. 26 through the first week of March). The Committee can send members there why can't the Commission? And why do their lengthy report seem to be a repeat of GAO reports? John Duncan pinned them down on the fact that they'd only visited three bases in Iraq. With no sense of awareness, let alone irony, Michael Thibault wanted to delcare that, "You have to spend the time in the country" to know what's going on in Iraq. Which leaves the Commission where?

Chair Tierney noted, "This Subcomittee stands ready to assist the Commission in this regard as appropriate." It's not as if the Commission is denied anything. But it really does appear to be a whitewash and an attempt to run out the clock. Jeff Flake, Ranking Member, would state in his opening remarks that "there's never too much oversight that can be done" and that may be true in theory but equally true is that the Comission was not set up to offer retreads of GAO reports. Tierney noted that the Committee points to suggestions that have not been enacted and pointed out that knowing why they weren't being implemented (legislation inaction, not enough hearings, etc) would be helpful. (Translation, Committee, that's your job.) Thibault noted there were 1200 plus recommendations and stated they do intend to trace each one, to start tracing each one. To start. Some day, I suppose. As The Mighty Mighty Bosstones once put it. Under questioning from Flake, Thibault admitted all the 1200 were from other bodies.

Along with the two co-chairs, Commission members Charles Tiefer and Grant S. Green also offered testimony on the first panel. Tierney had all the witnesses sworn in before any testimony was offered -- a detail many subcommittees and committees tend to skip (but shouldn't). Tiefer's response to the Subcommittee about wrapping things up as the US prepares to turn the lights off may go to the problems with the Commission. And it might help for someone to inform Tierney that the US will NOT be turning out the lights in Iraq when they leave (whenver that is) because Iraq is a country with its own population and Tiefer's remarks were as irritating as his deeply nasal voice.

"We're absolutely going to do that," said Tierney. About looking into contracts. They're going to do that. They're going to look into contracts. They're going to look into the recommendations and the status on each, they're going to . . . . What do they actually do? This wasn't a meeting to discuss projections, this was a hearing to discuss what they had done and what they'd learned and the reality was that they really had not done a great deal. And that may go to why so few members of the Subcomittee bothered to show up for the hearing.

Republican John Duncan noted that "very few people are willing to vote against anything the Defense Department wants" and that this reluctance appears to continue even in the face of revelations of contract abuse and more. And he is correct. He pointed out:

According to the Congressional Research Service, we're now spending, when we add in the regular budget, the supplemental bills and we're getting ready to vote on another supplemental bill here either this week or a few days and yet in the emergency appropriations and all the money that they throw into the omnibus -- according to the CRS -- we're spending more on defense than all the other nations in the world combined and it seems to me that a lot of it is generated because the defense contractors hire all the retired admirals and generals and then they caught the revolving door at the Pentagon. But somebody is going to have to -- I don't think we can just keep on wasting and blowing money in the way that we're doing.

Tierney also expressed puzzlement over why the report did not first go to the Subcommittee members and not released by the press until the hearing. AP had the report on Sunday.

On war spending,
Perry Bacon Jr. (Washington Post) reports US Senator Lindsey Graham states he will block the supplemental if a non-related provision isn't in it. [Graham and US Senator Joe Lieberman are attempting to force in a measure which would allow Barry O to refuse to release torture photos.] Graham states he will block the bill. Graham is threatening, pay attention, to do what US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed could not be done, claimed for the last two years could not be done. It could always be done. The Democrats could have blocked spending any time they wanted to.

Alsumaria reports on allegations that the US is preventing corruption investigations in Iraq: "Head of the integrity commission Rahim Al Ugaili criticized US authorities for not assisting in the investigations of probable corruption by US officials and companies in the wake of 2003. Al Ugaili considered that US officials and contractors' immunity from Iraqi law has prevented the commission from investigating into the spending of Iraqi funds by the coalition power. He added that Iraq is cooperating with the US inspector in exchanging intelligence; yet, the cooperation is unilateral Iraqi wise."

Quickly, Gloria Feldt offers her thoughts on the assassination of Dr. George Tiller
here. In addition, she's hosting a pre-Father's Day panel June 20th at Brooklyn Museum to discuss the women's movement and how it has changed men and women. The panel begins at 2:00 pm. Among those scheduled to participate on the panel is Susan Faludi. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now! -- watch, listen or read) spoke with abortion provider Dr. Warren Hern about Dr. Tiller today and about the assault on abortion rights, democracy and more. Maria Hinojosa will speak with Dr. Hern and with Dr. Leroy Carhart to discuss terrorism and abortion rights on this week's NOW on PBS (which begins airing Friday on most PBS stations, check local listings).

the washington postanthony shadidthe new york times
rod norland
caroline alexanderbloomberg news
robert h. reidqassim abdul-zahrarobert o'harrow
perry bacon jr.npralsumaria
alissa j. rubin
gina chonthe wall street journal
susan faludi
now on pbs
amy goodmandemocracy now